Successful engineers are always learning, always tinkering, and always coming up with new ways to solve problems. They are interested not only in their own fields of expertise but also in the world as a whole. Of course, you can’t really do anything with these traits. So, what makes an elite developer different from the rest of the crowd? See the following:
Don’t market yourself as if you can only do one thing.
The days when job seekers could impress potential employers by saying they were “C# developers” or “Java specialists” are long gone. In the tech world of today, you have to be flexible, and for developers, that means not being tied to one language. Sure, everyone likes and knows more about some things than others, but the key is to see those things as strengths instead of weaknesses. Employers want engineers who are willing to learn new skills and are good at them.
Understand what you need to know.
Learning how to program is different from learning a programming language. At the heart of what it means to be a great developer is the ability to see problems and come up with elegant solutions. An algorithm is basically a logic problem, and a developer should be able to draw it out on a whiteboard and explain it to an intern in plain English, no matter how complicated the solution is.
It’s great to learn a framework, but it’s even better to learn the language it’s built on.
Even the most popular ones, like Ruby on Rails, come and go. And while Rails will probably be the go-to framework for most large-scale web apps, sometimes a simpler, lighter framework like Sinatra or Volt can save time while providing more than enough functionality. By taking the time to learn Ruby or any other underlying language, developers can switch between frameworks much more easily.
Develop across levels
If it’s still possible to be a good full-stack developer is up for debate. But the gap between the client side and the server side has shrunk a lot as the DevOps culture has grown and Platform as a Service (PaaS) solutions like Heroku and Amazon’s Elastic Beanstalk have become more popular. Tasks like setting up new server space rarely need to be done by experts anymore since cloud services can do most of the work for them. It’s a good idea to learn at least a few of them.
At the same time, PaaS is no reason to not know how the OS kernel works. Even if something is automated, it can still go wrong. And if it does, someone needs to be able to figure out what’s wrong and fix it.